A Song in the Night
If we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:25
My father’s life was one of longing. He longed for wholeness, even as Parkinson’s disease gradually crippled more and more of his mind and body. He longed for peace, but was tormented by the deep pain of depression. He longed to feel loved and cherished, but often felt utterly alone.
He found himself less alone when he read the words of Psalm 42, his favorite psalm. Like him, the psalmist knew a desperate longing, an unquenched thirst for healing (vv. 1–2). Like him, the psalmist knew a sadness that felt like it never went away (v. 3), leaving times of pure joy merely a distant memory (v. 6). Like my dad, as consuming waves of chaos and pain swept over him (v. 7), the psalmist felt abandoned by God and asked, “Why?” (v. 9).
And as the words of the psalm washed over him, assuring him he was not alone, my father felt the beginnings of a quiet peace enter in alongside his pain. He heard a tender voice surrounding him, a voice assuring him that even though he had no answers, even though the waves still crashed over him, still he was dearly loved (v. 8).
And somehow hearing that quiet song of love in the night was enough. Enough for my dad to quietly cling to glimmers of hope, love, and joy. And enough for him to wait patiently for the day when all his longings would finally be satisfied (vv. 5, 11).
For New Testament believers the question in Psalm 42:2, “When can I go and meet with God?” may seem odd because we understand we can meet with God any time. In ancient Israel, however, the presence of God was tied to a specific place—the temple. The writer laments that he’s separated from the corporate worship of God in the temple (see especially verse 4). His cry expresses the desire to know the time when he can again meet with God. What a wonderful gift to know that today we can always enjoy the presence of God because He dwells within us (1 Corinthians 6:19).